Write Senate, Not Santa: You have till midnight

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Get writing NOW, you only have until MIDNIGHT to counter the forces of darkness!

You only have TILL MIDNIGHT to make a submission to the Senate Committee examining the Exposure Draft of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 . Lots of people have written saying LGBTI people shouldn’t be protected from discrimination. Please write and tell the government why we need protection. Submissions close FRIDAY MIDNIGHT.

If you’re not sure what to write, check out yesterday’s Freshly Doug column for some useful links. Ready to go? Click here to make your submission now. This is my submission.

I support the bill to modernise Australia’s antiquated anti-discrimination laws, but the proposals don’t go nearly far enough to address the very real issues affecting the gay and lesbian community.

It needs to be passed in this parliamentary term. It’s already long overdue.

My partner of 20+ years has been discriminated against, and the law as it stands was powerless to help.

Discrimination is seldom overt: anti-discrimination officers need powers to enter premises and seize documents to get at the truth. Otherwise the truth is easily concealed and dismissal passed off as being for ‘operational reasons’ or ‘poor performance’, as happened to him. Fortunately he had kept his own records.

The law must include protections on the grounds of sexual orientation and relationship status to ensure that same sex relationships are protected from discrimination.

The proposed definition of sexual orientation protects Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people without using these labels, thus being more inclusive.

Any definition protecting transgender people must include gender expression (such as mannerisms, appearance etc).The Tasmanian Parliament provides the best template for this, and also for intersex protection. We shouldn’t leave them behind.

No service provider, public or private, should be allowed to discriminate against LGBTI people either in provision of services, or employment, or in any other way, whether “religious” run or not. That includes schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, aged care homes, employment services, adoption agencies.

If they insist on maintaining discrimination in any part of their organisation, they must be barred from the receipt of any funding or contracts from any government, state or federal, or agency thereof. The Australian people should not have their money (taxes) used to support prejudice and discrimination, or beliefs they do not share.

A separate Commissioner for LGBTI rights should be appointed as part of the Human Rights Commission. The splitting of LGBTI issues across a range of other portfolio removes the necessary focus from tackling LGBTI discrimination. Ther should also be a ministerial portfolio for LGBTI people, as there is for Women and Aboriginals.

Thank you

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)